Wilton artist hosts exhibition with her family’s art at the Hammond Museum

The official title of the triptych of exhibits currently at the Hammond Museum, a few miles west of Ridgefield in North Salem, NYis “Artistic legacies and Zen sanctuary.” But a simpler title might be “Lucy Krupenye, family and friends”.

Lucy, a sculptress from Wilton who works with found materials such as stone, wood, metal and bone, is at the center of the three exhibitions as an artist, conservativedaughter and granddaughter.

Family legacies, as Lucy explained, begin with her grandmother, Berta Gladstone who ran a gallery in Woodstock, NY which, in its heyday of the 1960s, had an impressive list of artists.

“I played there when I was little,” Lucy said. “Its artists were exhibiting at the Met Museum, MOMA, National Gallery. I knew it was a top gallery, but when I grew up it wasn’t there. As an adult looking back , I thought, ‘Oh?’ So I went through the archives of the Woodstock library and it reinforced my memories.

She did her research about five years ago, and the newspaper clippings she found reporting on exhibitions at the Gladstone Gallery, along with other material, occupy a corner of a gallery at the Hammond.

Meanwhile, Lucy and her mother, Berta’s daughter Grace Krupenye, had established themselves as artists independently of each other, at least at first. Lucy’s earliest memories are of her mother’s oil paintings. She later switched to collage, in part because the family spent summers in the south of France, where Lucy’s father, Ira Krupenye, a concert violinist, performed with two orchestras. One was the Philharmonie de Monte-Carlo.

“My mother started playing with the paper the French use to wrap bread,” Lucy said. “Then she started making her own paper. Incredibly, that was around the time I was starting out as a sculptor. We would do it totally separately and then come together and always be amazed at how similar the feel was to our artwork. It was wonderful because my mom always inspired me so much, but there was a moment when she said how much I inspired her.

Eventually, mother and daughter would exhibit together. Around two dozen of Grace’s collages are on display in Hammond’s Hays Gallery. They tend to be smaller and more delicate than her daughter’s sturdy sculptures. But most incorporate metal, usually disguised as flattened ribbons.

One entitled “Ellipse of Love” is dedicated to Ira, her muse and her husband. In the center is a found object that looks like a crouching creature from an early video game. Lucy said it was actually a bridge from one of her father’s violins. She herself made a series of sculptures using her old violin cases.

At first, Lucy followed in her father’s musical footsteps, attending the Manhattan School of Music in high school as a flautist. Then one day, in her twenties, she received a call from her mother notifying her that she was cleaning out the attic of the family home, where Lucy’s collection of Cape Cod shore finds were stored.

“She said, ‘Would you like this? Otherwise, I throw them away. I said yes. And I started taking stones and putting things together. I started making jewelry,’ a- she said, but friends told her that her jewelry was more like sculpture and urged her to work on a larger scale.

At the Hammond, she exhibited 22 pieces at the Goelet gallery. Many like “Lost Tribe,” which won the Eisner Prize for Sculpture in a Silvermine Arts Center exhibit, incorporate curved bands of wood or metal that evoke the entrance to a Japanese temple.

Another room, and the largest, shares the space with paintings made by his mother and even his grandmother. Titled “Sanctuary,” it is a five-foot-tall marbled metal slab bearing what Lucy identified as old wagon springs. Paired end to end, they have the shape of an arched canoe. In an upper corner are an animal’s leg bone and vertebrae arranged to resemble a character from an Asian alphabet.

Lucy is a Zen lawyer and the third section of her Hammond exhibit is a celebration of the Zen spirit featuring the work of 23 different artists, many of them household names. There is a landscape by David Dunlop, a Silvermine Instructor. Jeanine Esposito from the Beechwood Arts Center in Westport has a 12ft suspended white waterfall made of painted fabric. Miggs Burroughs de Westport created a Zen garden in his signature lenticular style. Melissa Newman, a daughter of Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward, has two small porcelain flower sculptures. They are under glass, as if everyone had their own private terrarium. Newman is a good friend, Lucy said.

In her artist statements, Lucy emphasizes the Zen influence and says she loves the tranquility of her home on the Norwalk River. But she described her workshop, with a huge workbench like a jumble of found pieces of wood, metal, stone and bone, often brought in by friends.

“People say, ‘How do you know where something is? I’m just saying that I know. But you need a tetanus shot before you go in,” she said.

His exhibition “Artistic Legacies and Zen Sanctuary” runs until November 5 at the Hammond Museum and the Japanese Stroll Garden.

About Bobby F. Lopez

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